Many people may not realize that the basic skill of cooking is also all about chemistry. When you cook something, the end product is a result of chemical reactions in a series. Because of this, knowing a little bit about chemistry can help make a person a better cook. In fact, understanding the chemistry behind what you are doing can help you understand what went wrong with your last bad meal. With everything from how something may taste different before it’s cooked than after to why colors change when you add heat, is basic chemistry. For example, we can take a look at red cabbage. If you put it into a hot pan, you may notice that the color changes. The heat is actually breaking down the pigment and changing the makeup of the cabbage to an alkaline, rather than the acid that it started as. If you were to increase the acidity, by for example, adding vinegar to the cabbage, it would become red again!
If you have a fruit that you want to ripen quickly, put it in a paper bag along with an apple. The apple gives of ethylene gas, which has been shown to very quickly ripen other fruits when left in close proximity. Knowing little tricks of the trade like this can make your cooking that much better. Many people also feel a sense of accomplishment when they take the chemistry that they know and put it to real life use in the kitchen. Of course, we all mess up at times, and the meal you are trying to make may end up with a flop, but if you understand the chemistry behind what you are doing, you will understand why this happened, and what to do next time to fix it.
Using chemistry in the kitchen is one of the funnest, and yummiest ways to put your scientific knowledge to use.